In 2003, visual artist Jackie Sumell asked Herman Wallace, a Black Panther activist and member of the Angola Three who had been kept in solitary confinement for more than 30 years, via letter: “What kind of house does a man who has lived in a 6×9-foot cell for over 30 years dream of?”
Their exchange resulted in a collaboration that transformed both of their lives and produced an internationally renowned exhibition, book, and documentary film.
Wallace was released in 2003, at the age of 71, on humanitarian grounds after he was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. After spending more than four decades in solitary confinement – longer than anyone in the history of the American penal system – he died just three days after his release.
On Thursday, April 16, the Brooklyn Public Library will present “The House That Herman Built,” an art exhibition and culmination of the artistic and literary works resulting from the years-long correspondence between Sumell and Wallace.
Included in Brooklyn Public Library’s #76759: Featuring the House That Herman Built exhibition are a life-sized replica of Herman’s prison cell, selections from his correspondence with Sumell, books from his reading list, and, in Central Library’s Grand Lobby, a model of the dream house that he designed.
The exhibition will open with a reception in the Dweck Center Lobby on the lower level of Central Library on April 15, and will be on display through June 5. Additional #76759 programming will include panel discussions, film screenings, and other special events.
WHAT: Opening of Brooklyn Public Library’s #76759: Featuring the House That Herman Built, which will showcase the famed exhibition, a joint project of artist Jackie Sumell and the late Herman Wallace, who spent over four decades in solitary confinement at Angola Prison.
WHEN: April 16-June 5; Opening reception: Wednesday, April 15, at 6pm (press invited to attend; please RSVP)
WHERE: Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn
*The Screening of the film Herman’s House will take place on April 16, at 7pm. To RSVP, click here.